At 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning the alarm clock screamed at us, its blaring bell cutting through our dreams like a sharp sword. Sonny and I arose and with wisps of sleep still clinging to our brains managed to make coffee and get morning chores done. We left the house by eight o’clock or so to have breakfast at John and Carols and then headed over to Weston to attend a livestock auction.
Our intention was to buy a good sized hog, have it slaughtered and split the meat between us. None of us has ever done this before and weren’t really sure what to expect. When we arrived at the market we walked through the stock area. Actually you walk on wooden passage ways that are raised above the paddock area. From there you have a view of all the stalls. There were a few calves, a pregnant cow and a goat but, no pigs.
We decided to go the cafeteria and have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. There were still livestock trailers pulling into the snowy parking lot and the auction didn’t start until 1:30 anyway. There was still plenty of time for a some hogs to show up.
The cafeteria was crowded with groups of men dressed in coveralls, Carhart coats and work boots. Their faces had the look of seasoned bidders or sellers of livestock as they talked amongst themselves. Fathers had brought along young sons and daughters to teach them the ropes and there were a few women as well, but it definitely looked more like a mans world.
We took another look at the paddock area and saw that about five hogs had arrived while we were in the cafeteria. Round paper stickers with numbers were stuck to their backs and we all agreed on a hog that we wanted to bid on.
The auction arena had rows of cement bleachers placed in a semicircle around a small show ring with doors that opened out to the stockade. Above the ring was a balcony where the auctioneer would sit. I have to say those benches were the coldest seats I had ever sat on. It was like something out of the Flintstones except there weren’t any animal skins to keep your bum warm. Luckily the hogs were the first to come out to be bid on.
None of us were sure how this all worked and we agreed that my cousin John would do the bidding. It was a good thing, because neither Sonny nor I could understand a word the auctioneer said. One other man bid against John on the hog we had chosen but we won out. It all went very quickly.
We had picked a 195 lb. hog and paid 62 cents per pound which comes to 120.90 total. Not bad. Apparently you don’t want to get a hog that is overly heavy because then you are getting a lot of fat and less lean. We went to the office and paid our bill then off to the butcher next door to set up to have the hog processed. I believe it will cost 55 cents per pound. Still cheaper than what you would pay at the grocery store.
It was definitely a new experience and when you think about it we have just purchased a hog from a local farmer that had a decent life. It did not live in over crowded conditions or was over stuffed on corn. These animals tend to come from small farms like our own and are well treated. There is something to be said about choosing your own food source. The hog looked clean and healthy and of course they are all USDA inspected.
Sorry there are no pictures. Sonny and I both forgot to take our iPhones with us. Hopefully I have given you a good enough description to imagine what the auction was like. Next year we may raise our own hog and have it slaughtered in Fall.